Andy Farrell: ‘Oh, we 100 per cent will need to be better to beat the All Blacks’

Ireland coach expects toughest test of his tenure when Ireland arrive at Eden Park tomorrow.

ANDY FARRELL IS under no illusion about the size of Ireland’s task when they arrive at Eden Park for tomorrow’s opening test of this three-match summer series.

First there is history: no Irish team has ever beaten New Zealand here while 28 years have passed since the All Blacks last lost in this stadium.

At today’s captain’s run, a small contingent of Irish fans watched from the stadium’s imposing main stand as Johnny Sexton led the team onto the same pitch that JPR Williams scored his sensational drop goal to help the Lions win the 1971 series and where the All Blacks collected the 1987 and 2011 World Cups.

So, there’s all that to consider. And then there is more recent past, when Ireland outplayed New Zealand to deservedly win the most recent meeting between these sides at the Aviva Stadium, last November.

“Oh, we 100 per cent will need to be better this time around,” Farrell said. “We were good that night but we weren’t perfect.

“We came in 10-5 down at half-time, having the run of play and we didn’t get ahead of ourselves. It was nice and composed and that’s what the All Blacks have been pretty good at over the last decade or so.

“Again, as I say, there’s going to be patches where things are going to go their way. We expect that. How we deal with that is pretty important.

“But yeah, it was a decent performance, but I don’t think it’s going to be good enough this weekend.”

head-coach-andy-farrell-juggles-with-his-whistle-during-the-captainss-run Farrell juggles with his whistle at training.

Certainly what we saw from the back-ups and wannabes on Wednesday wasn’t good enough, Farrell’s second string getting comprehensively outplayed in their game against the Maori All Blacks.

Yet context is needed. Keith Earls is the only starter from that game to make it into Farrell’s side for tomorrow’s test so in a sense there isn’t much relevance to the events of Hamilton, bar to remind Farrell that his depth chart needs a lot more work.

“We’re certainly keen to see where our potential really is because where we’re at now isn’t good enough to push us forward to where we want to be in a year’s time.

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“That’s why we’re here, doing what we’re doing because you come to a World Cup, you know it’s going up to 33 in the squad now and there’s all sorts of protocols that are changing over time and all sorts of things that you need to do to adapt.

“We need to get good at not being frustrated or fractured when things aren’t quite going according to plan because that’s international rugby and that’s certainly what a World Cup is. So this is great preparation, not just for the players, not just for the coaches but for all the staff.

“We’re working unbelievably hard together to get two teams going and obviously there are a lot of differences to what normally happens in a normal competition like the Six Nations.

“But it’s the type of pressure that we want to put under ourselves and see how we manage that as a group.” 

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About the author:

Garry Doyle  / reports from Auckland

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